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Government pledges to take on landlords who are trying to 'get around' rent control rules

Nationally, the average rent across all properties in Q2 stood at €1,017 – which is €63 higher than the same period last year.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy at the National Ploughing Championships in Offaly.
Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy at the National Ploughing Championships in Offaly.
Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

Updated 4.08 pm

HOUSING MINISTER EOGHAN Murphy says the government will look at taking on landlords who are trying to get around rules regulating rent increases.

Murphy made the pledge after it was announced that two more areas are to become subject to rent controls, Drogheda and Greystones

The areas will now be designated as Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs), meaning that rents cannot rise by more than 4% annually there.

To qualify as a RPZ, the rents in an area must be above the national average and have gone up 7% or more in four of the last six quarters.

There are now a total of 21 RPZs across the country.

All of Dublin, as well as parts of Wicklow, Cork, Kildare and Galway have been designated RPZs already.

The two new additions to the list were announced today by the minister at the launch of the latest Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) quarterly rent index report.

But speaking from the National Ploughing Championships in Tullamore, Murphy said that some landlords may be seeking to “get around” the rules by carrying out refurbishment works on properties.

“Anecdotal evidence, which seems to be borne out by some of the data returns, is that the RPZ legislation is not being complied with by some landlords, who are looking to get around the increase limits imposed, for example, by using the refurbishment exemption to charge higher rents or reset the market rent,” the minister said.

I am instructing my department and the RTB to formulate a definition of what constitutes “substantial refurbishment” of a dwelling that will issue from the RTB as guidance.  This clarification will be communicated to landlords in the coming weeks by the RTB as part of their wider awareness campaigns on the RPZ measures.

“I expect this definition to be approved by the RTB Board and published by the end of the month,” the minister added.

Murphy also said that such a definition may ultimately be added to legislation to give it further legal backing.

He said substantial refurbishment should “clearly improve the quality of the accommodation” and could include improvements such as increasing the number o bedrooms or improving energy usage through improved insulation.

Rents

The report found that rents in Dublin are now 10% higher than they were during the peak of the rental boom at the height of the Celtic Tiger.

The report for the second quarter of this year (Q2) found that rents in the capital are 10.8% above their previous peak in the last quarter of 2007.

Nationally, the average rent across all properties in Q2 stood at €1,017 – which is €63 higher than the same period last year.

This marks a rise of 6.6% nationally in private sector rents across the country.

The RTB’s quarterly rent index reports measure the rents on all newly registered tenancies in the quarter. The RTB says that it is the most authoritative report on rents in the country as it measures actual rents being paid by new tenants (as opposed to asking prices).

Over 19,000 new tenancies were registered with the RTB during Q2 of this year.

- With reporting by Rónán Duffy

Read: Almost a quarter of renters now pay more than €1,300 a month for accommodation

Read: Almost €1000 a month for a room where the bed is next to the oven: Trying to find a place to live in Dublin

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